I am often surprised by the people who pass me when I am running. I just can’t understand how someone running that slowly can pass me when I am running this fast.
Obviously I have a distorted self-image.
And I don’t think I am alone. It can be very difficult to see yourself accurately and while not seeing yourself accurately isn’t a very big problem when it comes to a middle age runner, it is a very big problem for us in other areas of life.
For example, one of the reasons many of us have such a hard time experiencing contentment is because we do not have an accurate view of who we are and what we deserve. If you want to learn biblical contentment work on developing an accurate view of self.
I want to take a moment and look at some of the pictures the Bible gives us of ourselves that may help us with being content.
Specifically, Jeremiah Burroughs offers these suggestions.
* We deserve nothing but hell.
We often have a long list of rights, but really what rights do we have? We are creatures. Sinful creatures at that. And as created beings who are living their lives in rebellion to the Creator there is only one thing that our actions deserve and that is judgement.
* We can do nothing apart from Christ.
We sometimes look at what we have and what we have accomplished as if we earned it when in reality it is only a gift.
* We are worse than nothing.
When something goes wrong in our lives, we often feel like victims. “Here I am God, living my life, just doing my thing, and You are actively seeking to mess it up.” The biblical picture of us is quite different. We were not neutral. We were rebels against God. And the only reason, we are believers now is because in His mercy, He’s pursued us.
* We are limited in our understanding of what is happening to us.
We do not see things exactly as they are. We see one piece of the puzzle, when God sees the entire puzzle. Arguing with God about one specific event in our life is a little like a person who is putting together a puzzle arguing with the one who designed it about one particular grey piece he doesn’t like when he hasn’t even seen the whole picture yet.
* Our hearts are deceitful.
We are actually able to take good gifts and make them bad ones and we will do that every time apart from the grace of God. Just think of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Even a perfect world wasn’t enough for human beings to be content. We really can’t enjoy one good gift as God intended without His stooping down to help us.
* God does not need us.
There have been times where I have struggled with contentment because I was thinking as if the ministry were dependent on me. “God you have to expand my avenues of service because I am, well me and you need me, right?” Wrong. And you know that doesn’t depress me. I am actually pretty happy that God isn’t limited by my abilities. To be used at all is grace. To be a toilet scrubber in God’s kingdom is more than I deserve.
If we are going to become content we need Jesus to help us obtain an accurate view of ourselves.
Jeremiah Burroughs puts it like this,
“To become content Christ must teach the soul this, so that, as in the presence of God on a real sight of itself, it can say:
‘Lord I am nothing, Lord I deserve nothing, Lord I can do nothing, Lord I am worse than nothing, and if I come to nothing and I perish I will be no loss at all and therefore is it such a great thing for me to be cut short here?’
A man who is little in his own eyes will account every affliction as little, and every mercy as great.“